Kim Jong-nam murder challenges China

Hazmat team at Kuala Lumpur airport after the killing of Kim Jong-nam
Feb. 26, 2017: A hazardous materials team sweeps a terminal at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport for traces of the VX nerve agent that killed Kim Jong-nam (source: dpa)
  • Tensions have flared between Pyongyang and Beijing after Kim Jong-nam’s murder
  • The removal of dictator Kim Jong-un’s older half brother strips China of key leverage
  • Beijing’s willingness to put up with any indignity to keep Korea divided will be tested

On February 14, 2017, the world learned of the sudden death of Kim Jong-nam, the older half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. A week later, Malaysian police announced that the cause of death was the tasteless, odorless nerve agent VX, a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). The attack confirmed that North Korea possesses chemical weapons and is ready to use them anytime and anywhere to destroy enemies of the regime.

From the start, China kept a low profile in this incident. However, there were clear signs that the Chinese government must have had information about the North Korean chemical weapons program.

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